Unoffical empeg BBS

Quick Links: Empeg FAQ | Software | RioCar.Org | Hijack | jEmplode | emphatic
Repairs: Repairs | Addons: Eutronix | Cases

Topic Options
#368496 - 21/03/2017 12:36 Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng?
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1434
Loc: Arizona
Background: I figure it is time to head back to school and get another degree. My medium/longish term goal is to get a Masters in Operations Research. However, one of the requirements of the program is knowing an 'advanced computer language'. My only formal education was in ADA and FORTRAN, neither of which do I have a decent modern compiler (at home, they are available at work but I don't want to have to use work assets for homework). So, I figure this is a good time to get an undergrad degree in something programming related also.

I do some programming at work, but it is a means to an end. I do a lot of data analysis, so I just sling something together in an Excel Macro (or MySQL and a lot of painful SQL statements if I hit data limits) and roll with it. It isn't pretty and very brute force. Learning how to do something more elegant and stand alone would be awesome. End goal would be to learn how to design and build a decent data analysis tool for a specific file formatted input to do analysis on the road and then a database/web interface for when analyzing data at home. However, the analysis is the final product, not the programs used to achieve that analysis.

Question: What is the real difference between a computer science and software engineering degree? Which would probably be better in my case? I am leaning toward a software engineering degree (my other degrees are engineering based), but advice from people who actually know the difference would be useful.

Thanks for any advice!
Tim

Top
#368497 - 21/03/2017 13:23 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
K447
addict

Registered: 29/05/2002
Posts: 571
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tangential to your inquiry, spend a few moments reading about the Swift programming language. Apple even provides a Swift Playgrounds learning app.

Swift has been rapidly rising in stature and acceptance. Rather remarkable, actually.

Swift on server side.

Top
#368498 - 21/03/2017 14:45 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
Roger
carpal tunnel

Registered: 18/01/2000
Posts: 5522
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: Tim
Question: What is the real difference between a computer science and software engineering degree?


It depends on the school. Generally, CompSci will have more theory in it, and SoftEng more practical stuff, but that's not a solid rule. Look at the curriculum and see what kinds of modules they have available.

Originally Posted By: Tim
I do a lot of data analysis


Look at R. Also look at Python, which -- I believe -- has got a lot of data analysis libraries.
_________________________
-- roger

Top
#368499 - 21/03/2017 15:41 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Roger]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1434
Loc: Arizona
Originally Posted By: Roger
Look at R. Also look at Python, which -- I believe -- has got a lot of data analysis libraries.
R looks really interesting. I'll have to play around with it.

Top
#368501 - 21/03/2017 19:35 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3118
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Tim
Which would probably be better in my case? I am leaning toward a software engineering degree (my other degrees are engineering based), but advice from people who actually know the difference would be useful.

I have to question whether getting a degree in either is useful, if your end goal is a Masters in OR. If the only reason you're looking at a degree in either is to learn "an advanced computer language," then I think you're barking up the wrong tree -- neither of those degrees are geared towards teaching you that. For example, in my CS degree, we used Pascal, C, C++, asm, Matlab, Modula-3, lisp, and a few others that escape me now. With the exception of the first-year classes, none of them spent more than a few weeks at the beginning of the semester going over the syntactic sugar of whatever language was being used in that class.

So your time (and money) might be better spent taking a few programming classes at a community college (if an official document is necessary) or just doing some tutorials online and then developing a small body of work that demonstrates that you meet the requirement (if an official document is not required), than spending 4 years earning a degree that's only tangentially related to medium/long-term goal.

Top
#368502 - 22/03/2017 00:40 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3646
Totally biased answer on my part, as I teach students pursuing computer science degrees, but...

The essence of computer science is learning ideas that have a long shelf life, and incidentally learning how to program. As such, a CS degree will typically include classes on algorithms, AI / machine learning, operating systems, networking, compilers, security, distributed systems, etc. Our own CS majors do learn to program in several different languages, but none of them really matter. It's not learning Java that matters in my own class, it's learning when to use O-O techniques and when to use functional techniques and how to test that your program is bug free. (My own class is maybe 50/50 "computer science" vs. "software engineering".)

Conversely, a software engineering degree will spend a lot more time on software, in general, and the processes and tools for managing a herd of developers. If you're lucky, you'll get a class on historical software successes and failures. Learn why bad software engineering killed people with the Therac-25 radiation machine.

What's better for you? Since your ultimate goals are outside of the field of computer science, as such, it sounds like your goals are to "satisfy the prerequisite" and call it a day. However, if you're waffling between CS and software engineering, you might hedge your bets. Depending on the school, the same introductory sequence might work for both majors. Or there may be a path from CS to software engineering without an equivalent path in the other direction. Maybe you only really need to plan out your first semester and leave the rest for later on.

Top
#368580 - 06/04/2017 05:41 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7848
Loc: Seattle, WA
Pick the one with an ethics class involved.
_________________________
Tom

Top
#368729 - 24/04/2017 17:21 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: drakino]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7848
Loc: Seattle, WA
Another good voice on the topic of ethics in Computer Science: https://www.wired.com/2017/04/hey-computer-scientists-stop-hating-humanities

Curious Dan about the program at your school, are ethics and humanities classes optional or required on the computer science side? Sounds like there's some of it more on the software engineering route akin to bridge engineers.
_________________________
Tom

Top
#368733 - 24/04/2017 19:59 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: drakino]
Tim
veteran

Registered: 25/04/2000
Posts: 1434
Loc: Arizona
I don't know about computer science, but pretty much any engineering program I've seen has at least an intro to ethics type class. They all had the required humanities also (lit, speech, art/film appreciation, history, etc).

Top
#368746 - 25/04/2017 16:53 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: Tim]
canuckInOR
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/02/2002
Posts: 3118
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By: Tim
I don't know about computer science, but pretty much any engineering program I've seen has at least an intro to ethics type class. They all had the required humanities also (lit, speech, art/film appreciation, history, etc).

My CS degree did require some non-math/non-CS electives, but there were no hard requirements with respect to what those electives were, and certainly no requirement for an ethics class, or even that those electives had to be humanities.

Top
#368753 - 25/04/2017 20:53 Re: Advice: Comp Sci or Software Eng? [Re: drakino]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3646
Originally Posted By: drakino
Curious Dan about the program at your school, are ethics and humanities classes optional or required on the computer science side? Sounds like there's some of it more on the software engineering route akin to bridge engineers.

Our CS major doesn't directly require an ethics class, but ethics do show up in specific classes when it's appropriate. My security class, for example, starts off with a lecture on the topic and it comes back multiple times during the semester.

Generally speaking, any university CS major will have a variety of "in major" requirements, a variety of "out of major" requirements, and a set of open holes for "electives". If you wanted to study more on ethics or whatever else, you could work those into your out of major requirements and/or electives by taking classes in other relevant departments.

Top